The South Korean government said that up to one million animals have been culled so far, and one million more could be destroyed in several days as the outbreak of Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) spreads rapidly throughout the country, the Korea Times reported.
South Korean president Lee Myung-bak convened an emergency cabinet meeting at Cheong Wa Dae to discuss the situation, and instructed ministers to come up with ‘fundamental’ measures to strengthen monitoring of the disease and reduce damage, presidential spokeswoman Kim Hee-jung said.
There has been a lot of criticism that the government failed to take appropriate measures right after the first case of FMD was confirmed in the end of November.
Since then, the animal disease has spread rapidly, reaching neighbouring areas of Seoul.
More than 948,000 cows and pigs have so far been culled, and the vaccination of hundreds of thousands of animals is underway in some of the worst-hit areas, according to the Ministry of Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MIFAFF).
The farm ministry said it detected three additional cases of FMD in the Chungcheong provinces in the central part of the country and one in Gyeonnggi Province near Seoul, despite extensive quarantine measures and the use of vaccines on cattle to stem further outbreaks.
It said that 55,731 pigs and ten cattle have been destroyed within a 500 metre radius of the farms as a precautionary measure.
The latest outbreaks have pushed up the number of animals to bedestroyed to record high levels, with financial losses estimated to exceed the 1 trillion won mark (US$ 888 million).
The current outbreaks are the severest ever in the country's history.